Mirjam Tally

Composer, ECU member since 2000
Born on 28.11.1976

Member of the Estonian Composers’ Union since 2000. Member of the Society of Swedish Composers since 2007

Sound is central in Mirjam Tally’s creations. Her music brims with playful contrasts – humorous, dramatic and poetic uses of sound are mixed there. Her early works mainly include chamber and electronic music in which acoustic and electronic sounds often interweave. In recent years, importance of orchestral music has increased in her oeuvre. Sometimes she uses Nordic or exotic folk instruments (Estonian zither kannel, didgeridoo, tanpura, accordion and others) and treats folkloric sound material with a modernist open mind. In Tally’s works Estonian poetry (Hasso Krull, Elo Viiding, Indrek Hirv, Kristiina Ehin) holds an important position. In Swedish, Tally has written several works on texts by Edith Södergran.

Mirjam Tally graduated from the Estonian Academy of Music in 2000 as a student of Lepo Sumera. During the studies she also received guidance in electronic music from Rauno Remme. In 2003 she obtained the master degree at the Estonian Academy of Music. 1998–2004 Tally was active as a freelance program host in the Estonian classical music channel Klassikaraadio; 2003-2006 she worked as an editor of the Estonian music magazine Muusika. Tally has published articles on music also in other editions. Since the autumn of 2006, Mirjam Tally lives and works in Visby on the island of Gotland, Sweden. In cooperation with Visby Library (Almedalsbiblioteket) and Visby Dome Church, Tally has organised several concerts of music of her own as well as other composers, performed by Ensemble Resonabilis, Una Corda, Anna Svensdotter, Aare Tammesalu and others.

Tally’s work “Swinburne” participated at the International Rostrum of Composers in 2001. In August 2005 Tally was in Visby International Centre for Composers as a grantee of NOMUS. Works she created in VICC´s electronic music studio premiered at the Dark Music Days festival in Reykjavik in February 2006. One of these works, Blow (video by Ülo Pikkov, 2007) participated at the International Society for Contemporary Music World Music Days Festival in October 2009 in Gothenburg, Sweden. In 2014, choral work Animalisk hymn presented Estonia at the same festival in Poland, Wroclav. At the same festival, Tally has presented also Sweden with the work Birds and Shadows in 2011 in Zagreb. In 2008, Tally’s orchestral work Turbulence participated in ISCM World Music Days in Vilnius and at The Venice Biennale’s International Festival of Contemporary Music. In 2009 the work was chosen as one of the ten recommended works at International Rostrum of Composers in Paris.

Mirjam Tally has collaborated with ensembles and musicians, such as BIT20 Ensemble (Norway), Kaspars Putninsh and Altera Veritas (Latvia), Ensemble Courage (Germany), Orchestra del Teatro la Fenice (Italy), Marco Blaauw (the Netherlands), UMS’n JIP (Switwerland), John Storgårds and Lapland Chamber Orchestra (Finland), Anna Svensdotter, Sonanza, 40f, The Gothenburg Combo, Eric Ericson Chamber Choir, Swedish Radio Choir and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Uppsala Chamber Orchestra, NorrlandsOperan Symphony Orchestra, Trio ZilliacusPerssonRaitinen (Sweden). From Estonia, cooperation has bonded her with flutist Monika Mattiesen, kannel player Kristi Mühling and conductor Risto Joost. Her ensemble work Shift, written namely for BIT20 Ensemble during the “EarLab” masterclass by Luca Francesconi, was premiered in September 2008 at the festival in Stresa, Italy. 2006–2012 Tally was collaborating with Ülo Pikkov in the realm of animation. In 2012, Tally composed music for dance films Red Hat and Yellow Hat by Swedish director Jesper Kurlandsky, last movie is about the choreographer Virpi Pahkinen and it was broadcast in the beginning of 2015 in Swedish television SVT.

Tally´s music has been performed in more than 20 countries, icluding festivals “Dark Music Days” in Iceland (2006), Summartónar” on Faeroe Islands (2008), The Venice Biennale’s International Festival of Contemporary Music in Italy (2008), ISCM World New Music Days in Lithuania, Sweden, Horvatia and Poland (2008, 2009, 2011, 2014), “Sound of Stockholm” (2010–2013) and others; also in at many festival in Estonia. In collaboration with ARM Music Tally released an author’s CD in 2003. In 2011, Mirjam Tally released the CD Eclipse, where mainly the concert recording of her orchestreal works have put together. In 2004, she was awarded the Heino Eller Music Prize. Turbulence was awarded the Composer Prize at the Estonian Music Days Festival 2007. Turbulence was awarded the Composer Prize at the Estonian Music Days Festival 2007 and the award of Swedish Royal Music Academy, Christ Johnson-priset in November 2008. In 2008, Tally was awarded also the annual prize of the Society of Swedish Composers. In 2009 Mirjam Tally was hired as the Composer in Residence for 2009-2011 by Swedish Radio P2. In 2009 Tally received the Annual Prize of Endowment for Music of Culture Endowment of Estonia. In the year 2016, Mirjam Tally was the composer-in-residence by the Estonian State Concert Institute Eesti Kontsert.

Mirjam Tally:
“Work with electronic means has considerably widened my imagination of sound. To me, colour is really important in music. When I was just beginning as a composer, the most difficult thing was to break free from the so-called thematic framework, to create more abstract, timbre-based music. Work in studio proved very helpful in this endeavour.

I have discovered for me the recording of environmental sounds. This is a bit similar to photography – you just need to be at the right place at the right time to get the fascinating sound on tape, be it, for example, yacht masts swaying in the wind, clinks of ice floes on the coast or wind generators, not to mention the sounds of birds and nature in general. The further result (i.e. the composition) already depends on if you have good ingredients; you don’t need to process and “bend” it in the studio at all. The main thing is to collect valuable sound material from the living environment.”

Mirjam Tally’s works are distributed by Svensk Musik.

© EMIC 2006
(Updated September 2010)